Written circa 2014. Living Waters Australia was a ministry that originally began as a programme to address homosexual sin. Over the years it expanded to address all types of sexual and emotional healing. The ministry is no longer running.

Paula and I just spent a week in Sydney doing a Living Waters intensive.

And it was really good.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the things I liked:

a) It was incredibly low-key.

While there were some very charismatic/pentecostal moments during the singing (which I don’t have a big problem with) hype was almost non-existent. I don’t know if this is normal of all Living Waters programmes, but Ron Brookman was at pains not to get ahead of God’s Spirit. If Jesus was going to do something, Jesus would initiate it. In fact, I have been so programmed to accept that hype is indispensible that for a couple of days I wondered whether God was actually doing much at all! I knew what he was doing in my heart, but there was no trumpeting about spiritual advance and experiences programmed in. In fact, at times I thought there was an over-emphasis on sin! (In retrospect, I think, instead, that I am just not used to people being that honest).

b) It was continually cross-centred.

The whole programme was basically providing teaching as a means for God to bring up issues in a person’s life and encouraging each person to respond by confessing, repenting, forgiving, letting go, and worshipping – all in the context of going to the cross of Jesus and getting his empowering and applying his substitutionary death. It was just applying Christian living to specific issues. This was done both in a whole group setting and in small groups which met twice daily.

c) The leaders were open and honest about their own struggles.

There was no encouragement toward hero worship. Ron, as the coordinator, confessed his own sins even during the week, and the other leaders were far from spit and polished, also. Related to that, in our group there was a continual checking with people to see if what was being prayed for was correct, i.e. there was a very humble attitude to hearing God’s voice.

d) A safe place was created.

From the outset, there were boundaries laid down.

  • No one was to discuss what other people said in their small groups.
  • No advice was to be given by leaders in the small group – just prayer discussion and prayer.
  • Only the leaders were to lay hands on people and pray.
  • No one was to share what they thought about another person’s issues in the group (and outside it), or what they thought the Lord was saying except the leaders. If another participant wanted to share with someone, they needed to talk to the leader at another time and the leader would decide if it should be shared.
  • People were given ample opportunity to decline the laying on of hands or anointing with oil or water (all of which were done). Leaders always asked and a participant could put an orange dot on their name badge if they didn’t want that to happen.

That probably isn’t all of it, but with all those boundaries in place, it became a very safe place to be honest and open.

e) There was little manipulation.

When I say little, there was none from the leaders that I can recall. Others may have felt some, but there was a concerted effort to avoid any. This definitely worked in my favour as I felt no pressure to respond to specific issues as they were raised from the front and this allowed God to bring up very real issues at times that I would not have forseen.

f) There was a whole lot of grace.

One of the questions on the application form was something like, “Do you recognise healing as a process?” This emphasis on progressive sanctification made room for an incredible amount of grace during the week. In a very orthodox fashion, sin was seen as continually with us and our victory over it something that happens gradually (usually). This encouraged people (me, I guess) to avoid the unhelpful “only holy” or “only sinful” dichotomy. We are all holy and all sinful, and falling into sin did not cast us into the “failed” category at all – we were all in the same boat.

There were things that I would have done differently, but on the whole it was a really blessed time and both Paula and I are so glad we went. The only reason we were ready to leave at the end of the week was because we were chomping at the bit to see our little girl again (she was staying with her Nana in our home state). It was truly a Jesus-centred week. A real blessing.

Thanks Peter and Jane for inviting us down.

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